A Series of Poems
TRIP TO THE INTERNATIONAL SLAVERY MUSEUM, LIVERPOOL
In the evening gray, beside the sea,
the dry docks are empty; there’s a nip
in the air and someone I know is holding
her insides, bile-soaked—washed in the
retch of memory. Maybe it’s by such tenderness
we exist. Here, I dream not of forgiveness
but my mother. Her voice revealing the
breadth of home. Black Mother, chained
in pair, ankle to ankle; with less room than
in a coffin. Salt-water black. First gang of
the sugar estates. My mother too tired to
cane-hole; too tired to dunged. My mother
sleepless in the New World.
CONFRONTING THE PAST HELPS DRAW THE POISON
after Nicholas Samaras
Everything ages to amnesia
Leaving a convenient myth
We struggle to hold
The scab breaks
History becomes tensed
As truth goes transparent
The scars lived
Underneath our bed
At night—in the morning
When the policeman stops
And searches for me
For my torn name
For my family’s grief
THE LOTHIAN BLACK FORUM
— in memory of Axmed Abuukar Sheekh, 1989
Sometimes, I think I’m never going to remember again
And then there’s a black body repeatedly stabbed six
times, five times in the upper chest. What’s the margin
of truth on laws that deny the existence of racist culture?
I am getting older. Today, I wake up and dig for your favorite
memory, haunted by justice and its insufficient approach.
There are still slurs and your killers still walk free or only
serve fleeting sentences. The thing is I miss being seen as
an equal but I miss most the very thing you held dear – the
script of dreams written in your palms like origami butterflies.
And in the crumbling heat of your fall—something you were
allergic to— your dream cracked and I felt in my throat an
unfamiliar groan twirling. It’s hard to say but still there are
moments the living make the dead feel embarrassed or neglected.
That night, alone, at the phone box, your wild life levitating,
and I can only say, there at the Crown Office; at the mirror on a
wall giving me back your perforated liver—hidden out of view.
Your body sinking into the knuckles of demonstration, and the
valley-spaces between fingers crammed with the silence of truth—
mud-hands holding a resplendent morning breaking out of its egg
shell, nestled on the heap-head of a filament: the stories of denial
and color bars— the blindness of a society that “doesn’t see race”.
Black child, black child, hidden out of view—there isn’t any lan-
guage left to wipe clean sorrow but double jeopardy.
By Ojo Taiye
Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian artist who uses poetry as a tool to hide his frustration with society. He also makes use of collage and sample technique. He is the winner of many prestigious awards including the 2021 Hay Writer’s Circle Poetry Competition, 2021 Cathalbui Poetry Competition, Ireland.
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